Microsoft(s msft) might be going after Google(s goog) in a big way. According to The Verge, sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans say that the company’s OS VP Terry Myerson is considering a move to make Windows Phone and Windows RT free.
This shift would be a pretty direct shot against Google, which offers its Android OS for free. Microsoft currently licenses the software to device makers, although Nokia’s(s nok) Windows Phone devices make up over 80 percent of the market share for Windows Phone. Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s mobile hardware division will remove this chunk of licensing revenue.
By offering its platforms for free, Microsoft would likely get more manufacturers interested in using the software, which in turn could attract more developer interest. And by getting more Windows-powered devices out there, it could help slow the growth of Android.
To recoup money lost on licensing fees, Microsoft would attempt to gain revenue elsewhere. The Verge suggests that ads in Windows 8 apps and Microsoft’s built-in Bing search help offset whatever is lost.
Of course, Microsoft still makes plenty of money by licensing Windows 8, and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. It also makes a great deal of money on Android device royalties, to the tune of a reported $2 billion per year.